Astigmatism is a refractive error, and is often caused by an abnormal curvature of the cornea. A refractive error means that the shape of the eye does not bend light correctly, leading to blurred vision. In order to see things clearly, light has to be refracted by the lens and the cornea correctly before it reaches the retina in order to see things clearly.
Children with astigmatism may have difficulty seeing finer details of objects both close and far away. They may also experience symptoms of fatigue, headaches and eye strain as a result of blurred vision.
Astigmatism In Children: What Causes Astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs when the front surface of the eye (cornea) is curved irregularly – usually one half is flatter (or steeper) than the other. When light rays enter the eye they do not focus correctly on the retina, resulting in a blurred image.
Astigmatism may also be caused by an irregularly shaped lens, which is located behind the cornea. Studies have found that astigmatism usually begins at birth, but it may also appear later in childhood or even later when we are adults. In some cases, astigmatism may occur after an eye surgery or injury.
Treatments for astigmatism
Although astigmatism may not go away on its own, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children with mild astigmatism may not need to undergo any treatment. An eye exam can determine the severity of your child’s astigmatism and whether is it necessary to undergo any treatment to correct it.
It has been shown that corrective eyeglasses tend to yield the most effective results in correcting astigmatism in children. The use of corrective lenses in eyeglasses can help to bend the incoming light rays to compensate for the error caused by faulty refraction so that images are properly received onto the retina.
In addition to the spherical lens power used to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism requires an additional ‘cylinder’ lens power to correct the difference between the powers of the two principal meridians of the eye.
Corrective contact lenses can also be used to correct astigmatism, with the soft toric contact lenses being the most common option. Soft lenses are made of hydrogel, which allow oxygen to move through the lens and into the eye. The high water content in soft lenses evaporates easily, so soft lenses can only be won for a day and then discarded.
Experts recommend that contact lenses only be used to correct astigmatism in children above the age of 12, and to be careful about cleaning the lenses properly to avoid eye infection.
Refractive surgeryIn some cases, refractive surgery such as LASIK can be recommended by your eye doctor to correct the surface of your child’s eye. After the surgery, you child’s astigmatism should be gone – along with any related form of near-sightedness or far-sightedness.
It is best to discuss the condition of your child’s astigmatism with your eye doctor, and see if they advise refractive eye surgery in your case.
This article originally appeared on The Asian Parent